Brand Romania has a distribution problem.

Bear with me today; this text will be long but worth reading.

In the almost 30 years of working as a designer and consultant for domestic or international brands, I have learned that no product or service, no matter how good or unique it is, can be transformed into a brand – and I’m talking here about an effort made in at least the medium term – if it does not have an adequate distribution system. What does adequate mean? It means functional, without syncopation, developed enough to take production and stocks and direct them (transports) to the market; it means diversified in as many and – mind you – as profitable channels as possible. In vain, the product and the production are set up if the product does not reach its final destination, the consumer. We are not going into detailed discussions of markets and consumers here; at this point, I am interested in detailing the importance of distribution in any brand’s growth, existence, and health. To be even more precise, think of that ubiquitous red-label bottled fizzy product with the brand name written in white; we find it (almost) everywhere.

How does product or service distribution affect Romania’s country or tourism brand? Apparently, nothing, right? Romania stands still; it is not a transportable commodity to be put on the shelf or a service that can be distributed worldwide, for example, Google services. But if we look at the distribution problem in reverse? And we are obliged by the nature of the “Romania product” to look the other way. The potential consumer of Romania – the tourist or the investor – must arrive in Romania; therefore, excellent communication of the potential advantages, whether tourism or investment, is needed.

We’re going over marketing and communications and back to distribution. The “distribution channels” for the “Romanian consumer” are to Romania and within Romania. To Romania are air, road, rail, and sea transport. The most likely to come to Romania are air and road, rail and sea are specially reserved for transporting goods. Within Romania, the predominant transport for the movement of people is road, rail, and then air.

I repeat myself a little for the sake of not forgetting and underlining the most critical aspect: experiencing Romania is mainly done by two categories of people: tourists and investors, from whom we, Romania, want to take as much money as possible repetitively and if possible increasing annually, just like Greece or Hungary does, for example. Basically, a brand is made to produce profit, which is also a matter of volume, so we don’t go into too many details here.

So, I found out Polichinele’s secret, that is, the leading distribution channels for the Romania brand are the access routes, both internal and towards Romania. We pass over the aspect of the destinations, i.e., hotels, restaurants, ski resorts, historical or natural sights, etc., we limit ourselves to discussing only the distribution, and we find that for 30 years, the national company Tarom has been in disrepair, the railways and trains have not been modernized (it travels at an average of 50 km/h). The highways are only now starting to take shape, with great difficulty and still not effectively connected so that from the main airports of the country: Bucharest, Cluj, Iași, and Timișoara (the rest of the airports are children’s bedtime stories and the pride of local potentates) to reach anywhere in the country in a reasonable time. Also, let’s examine the structure of the flights, the destinations, and the airlines present again. We have a problem of diversity and volume, and we find that these are mainly low-cost companies that transport our emigrants to and from Europe. I don’t think there’s any point in going into too much detail about the access roads and highways. Let’s just note that we don’t have a link that crosses the Carpathians; or, after leaving the highway on the coast, we move our cars for hours in traffic jams to travel a few kilometers to the next station; or, to note the permanent traffic jams on Valea Prahova; or, those at the entrance from Sibiu on Valea Oltului, where we leave the highway to access one of the Carpathian passes; or the customs queues, especially those with Hungary. We can also note that our entry into the Schengen road space is delayed until an uncertain date (sea and air really do not matter much in this landscape, from the point of view of utility and passenger volume), and we have the complete landscape of distribution channels internal and external of travelers. If we also consider the goods, things become even more “unpleasant.”

I continue to reason, based on the above, the current measures to stimulate tourism in Romania, such as seminars on the topic of tourism, gastronomic fairs, holiday vouchers, design projects of the “Brand Mamaia” type, and others, tourist walking routes (such as the “Route of wooden churches from Romania,” “Porțile Transilvaniei,” “Drumul Brâncoveanului from Bucharest to Sâmbăta de Sus și Făgăraș,” “Via Transilvanica,” “Via Mariae,” șamd), communication campaigns abroad, documentary films by well-known videographers, etc. they are all for naught because the consumer must be very determined and of a particular type to want to make substantial efforts to reach those destinations or routes. These are atypical tourists; the mass of tourists who really make money is completely different. See the “mass” tourism profile in Greece, Spain, Cyprus, Turkey, etc., those who generate money for these countries, with a significant percentage in the economy.

I know many will criticize what I said above, especially those involved in these types of projects and who earn money from them (funds attracted from the EU, the Ministry of Tourism, and donations or sponsorships), but Romania will not have a brand. It will not produce real money from it until access to its product, whatever it is, is fixed.

This text was published for the first time on linkedin: